By Alan Robinson
If nothing else, it illustrates how fast the Steelers’ once-elite defense has fallen.
Pro Football Focus came out Wednesday with its midseason all-AFC North team for the 2013 season, and four Steelers players made it.
One is a surprise.
None are from the Steelers defense.
The team isn’t based on the subjective opinion of various writers but, rather, is based on performance analysis of every play.
Making the team on offense were quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, right guard David DeCastro and wide receiver Antonio Brown (who, by the way, is joined by A.J. Green of Cincinnati and Torrey Smith of Baltimore).
No one was chosen off the defense that was the NFL’s No. 1 statistically three of the last four seasons.
The fourth Steelers player chosen was Robert Golden on special teams; according to Pro Football Focus, he has made six special teams tackles without missing one and grades out positively on both kickoff and punt coverage.
Pro Football Focus said DeCastro is the best offensive guard in the division this season and is playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Oh, and the linebackers? None other than Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals’ tackling machine and … Bengals teammate James Harrison.
Despite being cast into a situational role in a 4-3 defense – far removed from his days as a 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebacker in Pittsburgh – Harrison has been “reborn in a new position and new specialty as a two-down run-stuffing thumper at strong side linebacker in the Bengals base defense,” according to Pro Football Focus. He grades out as a plus 7.4.
LaMarr Woodley of the Steelers was omitted from the team, but grades out at a plus 9.2. Lawrence Timmons, by the way, is a minus 1.2.
The Steelers defense is ranked 12th this week, based strictly on yardage. It is in the middle of the league with 208 points allowed.